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Gov’t supporters in Venezuela mark 30th anniversary of Chavez’s failed coup

Caracas, Feb 4 (EFE).- Despite a surge in Covid-19 infections in Venezuela due to the Omicron variants, supporters of the ruling leftist PSUV party gathered here Friday to mark the 30th anniversary of the failed military coup led by party founder Hugo Chavez (1954-2013).

“Here I am, commemorating 30 years since the beginning of this revolution commanded by our eternal comandante Hugo Chavez with a golden generation in which participated many of those who are in this continuing struggle against the Yankee empire,” 64-year-old Mireya Bella told Efe.

The attempt by then Lt. Col. Chavez and some 2,000 troops to overthrow the government of elected President Carlos Andres Perez represented “true democracy” because it saw the emergence into the open of what had been “clandestine struggles,” she said.

“Chavez marked the start of this great participatory democracy, because what we experienced here before was representative democracy, for me, a disguised dictatorship,” Bella said.

Oil-rich Venezuela is in the eighth year of a recession accompanied by spells of hyperinflation, a situation Bella blames on the “economic embargo,” referring to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

Last year, the United Nations special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, described the effect of those sanctions on Venezuela as “devastating.”

Chavez’s Feb. 4, 1992, coup fizzled out quickly and he spent two years behind bars before receiving a pardon from Perez’s successor, Rafael Caldera.

Once out of prison, Chavez resigned his commission to enter politics and was elected president in 1998. He died of cancer months after winning a third term.

The failed 1992 coup grew out of an earlier popular uprising against Perez known as the Caracazo.

Perez, who was elected in 1988 on a platform critical of calls for free-market “reforms,” abandoned that position after taking office and imposed a program of austerity.

On Feb. 27, 1989, thousands of Venezuelans unhappy with the new policy protested on the streets of Caracas and the nearby city of Guarenas.

The protests devolved into widespread violence and looting, and the subsequent crackdown by security forces left more than 270 dead, according to official figures, though the PSUV says that at least 3,600 protesters lost their lives in clashes with security forces.

EFE csm/dr

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